The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

Dear Future Cancer Patient

by Karrah Teruya3x Patient, Acute Lymphoblastic LeukemiaApril 18, 2024View more posts from Karrah Teruya

Dear future cancer patient,

You may be thinking that this letter made its way to you late. I assure you it didn’t. What good would have been accomplished if I had warned you of the tragedy to befall you? Would you have wanted all of your present moments to be tainted with the anxiety of the arduous journey ahead? Worry will cost you twice if you let it, once in the present and again in the future. To survive, you must meet each challenge in the moment it arrives. If you take your eyes off the present, your energy will go to a place you do not yet have influence over. The future will make its way to you in due time. Trust that you will be equipped to meet her.

Above all else, know this is entirely outside your control; it is not your fault. You are not being punished for your past. You didn’t receive this assignment because you “needed to learn a lesson” or because you were strong enough to handle it.

Please be hopeful, but hold your plans loosely; this allows you to be agile and creative when things don’t play out the way you expect.

Don’t try to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. I know it may be tempting to try and prepare yourself, but any attempts are futile. Do not compare your journey with anyone else’s. You alone must create the map and forge the path. This might seem scary initially, but I promise you have everything you need for the journey ahead. With each challenge, you will meet a stronger version of yourself along the way. Each one will prove to be a worthy appointment for the crisis at hand. This version of yourself will never show up early, they will never show up late. You will be amazed to know this person was a part of you all along.

Suffering will become your teacher. Don’t spend your precious energy avoiding her with all your hobbies and distractions. Instead, take the time to get to know her and make yourself comfortable around her. She will be visiting more often than you would like. Invite her in any way; she has much to reveal to you. If you ask her, she will show you where your attachments are, and she will invite you to surrender them. This is not an easy task, but this is the way. Suffering will bring with her troves of wisdom and clarity in exchange for your attachments, but it will come at a great cost.

You may feel like you are losing control of everything, and at times, you are. There will be times when you start to feel emotions bubble up at the most inopportune times. Be kind to yourself; not everything you feel will make sense. You will have moments of extreme grief and extreme joy at the same time. Don’t expect yourself to understand why. Just allow the feelings to wash over you. There will be moments of heartbreak and times of overwhelming abundance. You may feel anger and resentment, not just for your illness but towards yourself. Allow your body permission to feel all of these things at once. Be generous with your allowances, with yourself, and with others. This can provide significant relief in times of difficulty.

Your clock will feel like it is ticking louder than anyone else’s, and maybe it is. But you have no way of knowing that for sure. Do not fall into the temptation to scramble and feel as though you must experience everything with a great sense of urgency. That will only breed more anxiety. Instead, focus on the quality of the moment, slowly and intently, as if you have nothing to rush to. You will experience overwhelming gratitude for the moment you’re in.

There is a time to fight, and there is a time to rest. It will be difficult to know when to pursue one over the other. Sometimes, healing is about relenting effort and control, and that can be the hardest part. Seek harmony over happiness, and when you find peace, rest there, taking as much time as you need. Don’t try so hard to heal; you cannot rush her. The more you try to rush healing, the less she will give to you. Healing is a gentle creature. She wants to teach you to be gentle with yourself, but you must create the space for her.

Don’t ask why. There is no reason that this happened to you. That might feel disheartening, but I assure you that it is not. You will get to create the meaning out of this catastrophic event.

We are often given more than we can handle, which moves us into a place of surrender and letting go. Cancer may make you feel like you are losing part of who you are; on the contrary, you are just beginning to meet yourself.

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